Belgrade

This year, I’m definitely going to visit you in Belgrade.”

I’d been saying that to Sonja for about four years, so a visit to the Serbian capital was well due. I finally found some cheap flights and went over for a few days this July.

I’m not going to sugar coat this: Belgrade isn’t a pretty city. It has a certain “heaviness” about itself, perhaps owing to its recent past. But that heavy backdrop is what sets the scene for its cool vibe.

Belgrade Belgrade Manufaktura Belgrade If I had only one word to describe Belgrade, it would be lively. Locals are out and about, filling up the outdoor seats along leafy streets. Grey buildings have been spruced up with blasts of colourful decorations. No matter what time of day, you’ll find the locals enjoying their city.  Continue reading

Dubrovnik

Croatia has been on the top of my bucket list for a couple of years now. So, it’s fair to say that I went to Dubrovnik with high expectations. I’d been warned that it was touristy and crowded. But once you’ve been to Dubrovnik, you’ll understand that its popularity is well-earned.

Long story short: Dubrovnik is beautiful, charming and unique, and everyone should go once.

Dubrovnik Dubrovnik DubrovnikCat and I went to Dubrovnik for four days on our annual getaway (last year we went to Istanbul). We’re both active tourists, but we also love to just relax. Dubrovnik is perfect for both those holiday goals. Continue reading

Lake Como

When in Milan, take a day trip to Lake Como.

Lake Como Lake Como Bellagio Lake ComoThere are many reasons one should visit Milan (I’ve outlined some of them in my last post), but the accessibility to Lake Como should be pretty high up on the list. Lake Como is a beautiful deep-blue lake set at the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy. Its namesake region is known for stunning scenery and upscale holidaying. But most importantly, it’s where George Clooney lives (and now you know why it rings a bell). No, we didn’t run into him.  Continue reading

Milan

I don’t understand why Milan gets a bad reputation. I’ve heard it being called industrial, dirty and uninteresting. A friend also once referred to it as “the Manchester of Italy”. If that’s the case, I’m looking forward to going up to Manchester because I had a fantastic weekend in Milan this month.

People usually go to Italy for good weather, history, food, and architecture. Milan ticks all those boxes along with being modern, prosperous, and a gateway to exploring northern Italian lakes.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele Milan Duomo Milan MilanWith less than 48 hours in Italy’s fashion capital – half of which was spent exploring the said northern lakes – we tried to pack as much as we could in a day, fuelled by coffee and Campari, of course.  Continue reading

Art Nouveau in Riga

Two weekends ago, my friends and I headed to the Paris of the North. Riga is an Eastern European gem with a labyrinth of cobbled- streets to explore. And an equally impressive number of bars to boogie at.

Riga Riga Riga

Riga boasts of the largest art nouveau open air museum in Europe. Forty percent of buildings in Riga are in the style of Art Nouveau, making the historic city centre a UNESCO World Heritage site. Continue reading

Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the world’s largest arts festival, featuring thousands of artists, performers, actors and comedians from around the world. But for me, Fringe was just another excuse to go back to Edinburgh this year.

Edinburgh Edinburgh EdinburghIf I had only three words to describe Edinburgh, I’d pick charming, beautiful and historic. There is so much to see and do in this lovely city, but the best part of going back for a second visit is that you’ve already checked off all the touristy items. Continue reading

Istanbul

For our annual getaway, Cat and I headed to the Far East for a weekend. The far East of the West, that is.

Istanbul is a perfect city break. It’s far enough from the comfort zone, but close enough to warrant an extended weekend trip. After all, who doesn’t like popping over to Asia for the weekend? Or for a couple of hours, as was the case with us since we were staying on the European side of the Bosphorus.

IstanbulI’d been to Turkey before, but never to the former capital of the Ottomans and Romans. The relevance of this city across histories of empires is what initially attracted me to Istanbul. But this sprawling metropolis is as cool as it is historical. Continue reading

Stockholm

Stockholm StockholmI went to visit my lovely friend Samanta in Stockholm this June. We met three years ago when she was visiting Toronto, and I’ve  been promising her a visit since. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I didn’t make it to Stockholm until this summer. It’s especially noteworthy how long it’s taken me to get to the Swedish capital considering I used to live in Denmark.

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Prague

Prague was the first European city I ever visited on my own. One summer, many years ago – when I was 18 – I did a travel writing course in Prague. It’s safe to say that I wouldn’t be a hobbyist travel blogger without that trip. But then again, Prague will turn anyone into a travel blogger.

Prague PragueWhen my friend Shanelle told me that she’ll be visiting Prague on as a part of her annual European adventures, I decided to crash her trip. And Rema decided to crash ours.

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Viennese coffee houses

It’s no secret that I love a good cup of coffee.

It’s also no secret that when it comes to cafes, Vienna has a special league of its own – the Viennese coffee house.

The Viennese coffee house culture is listed as “Intangible Cultural Heritage” as per UNESCO. It’s a concept I recently became familiar with my friend Melissa went to Marrakech and told me that the markets were listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage. While the more well-known concept of World Heritage sites refers to tangible – or touchable – buildings, monuments, places etc., this particular categories refers to song, music, drama… overall vibes that you can’t replicate elsewhere in the world.

And surely, I’ve never been to a coffee joint quite like the Viennese coffee house. I liked them right away, and went to several during my trip to Vienna. They all have different decors, moods, menus, but what remains the same is the hushed banter, the elegant service, melange on the menu and delicious cakes served with silverware.

The first coffee house we went to – literally within two hours of arriving in Vienna – was Cafe Hawelka. It was on the very top of my list for all the historical significance it boasts of – opened by Leopold Hawelka (who passed away in 2011 at the age of 100) in 1939, the interior of the establishment has been fully preserved, from its marble table tops to elegant lace curtains.Cafe Hawelka Vienna Cafe Hawelka Vienna Cafe Hawelka Vienna Cafe Hawelka Vienna Cafe Hawelka ViennaI ordered my first Wiener Melange, literally translating to “Viennese blend.” It’s something I’d describe as a cross between a cappuccino and a latte. And I liked it!

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